Local News

Prayers at Wake Forest church at odds with county limit on public gatherings

Posted April 29, 2020 2:10 p.m. EDT
Updated April 29, 2020 4:16 p.m. EDT

One Catholic church in Wake Forest opened its doors briefly for parishioners to pray on Wednesday, a step Wake County leaders say is in violation of the county stay-at-home order. Through Thursday, Wake County limits gatherings only to immediate family, a stricter limit than the state order, which prohibits groups larger than 10.

St. Catherine of Siena planned to open its doors from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., to limit the number of people inside and their proximity and recommended against anyone staying for more than 15 minutes.

“We are doing our best to follow those guidelines while also maintaining our First Amendment rights," said Mary Allison, director of communications for the church. "We are a religious organization, and people have a right to that.”

Allison said the church does not believe that personal prayer constitutes a gathering.

The dispute became moot Wednesday when parishioners started showing up without masks. The church was not offering masks to parishioners, but asked them to bring their own.

The next time the church wants to offer a place to pray, it will be in line with county guidance. Wake County will let its stay-at-home order expire Thursday night, and groups of up to 10 will be allowed under the terms of the statewide order.

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